Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Blabber Blabber Blabber (Everything vol. 1), by Lynda Barry

I freely admit it: It's impossible for me to be objective about the work of Lynda Barry. I simply believe her to be one of the very finest cartoonists ever to have lived. I first discovered her work in the pages of RAW (edited by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly) back in the early 1990s, and I quickly became a devoted follower of her work, both in books and in her syndicated comic strip Ernie Pook's Comeek.

Blabber Blabber Blabber is a collection of her earliest published work, the bulk of which has never before appeared in book form. It also includes her complete 1981 publication Girls and Boys (the whole book - even the endpapers!). These early comics are accompanied by lengthy, contextualizing, collage-based autobiographical/historical sections by Barry [watch for guest stars like Matt Groening and Gary Panter!]. Reading this book is a joyful experience.

I found it quite interesting, after absorbing her two previous "how to be creative" books (What it Is [2008] and Picture This [2010]), to see how evident Barry's thematic preoccupations have been from the earliest days of her career. She mines her early and inner lives not for autobiography, but for verisimilitude: Her work feels solid, feels "real," in ways that are poetic and crystalline, wild and dangerous, careful and carefree. I cannot recommend her work highly enough, and Blabber Blabber Blabber is a great place to start.

Blabber Blabber Blabber
[Everything. Volume 1, Collected and uncollected comics from around 1978-1982]
By Lynda Barry
Drawn and Quarterly, 2011
ISBN-10: 1770460527
ISBN-13: 978-1770460522
176 pages, $24.95

A shorter version of this review was originally published at Goodreads.